Fukushima Update: Highly Radioactive Water Has Reached The Sea Posing 'Threat To Life'
Two and a half years may have passed since the Fukushima nuclear disaster, but problems there are as serious now as they've ever been
The head of the country's Nuclear Regulatory Authority task force Shinji Kinjo told Reuters on Monday that the leak was an emergency, but he was worried the plant's operator, TEPCO, had no sense of how to deal with it.
In a recent news conference, TEPCO General manager Masayuki Ono said the situation was bleak. "We understand that this discharge is beyond our control and we do not think the current situation is good. "
Radioactive contamination 'soaring' in Fukushima groundwater Strontium and other beta emitters up 4,500% in recent days; Cesium rises nearly 1,500% Tepco says it doesn't know why levels spiked.
Aug. 6, 2013: on Monday, TEPCO detected high levels of radioactive substances in groundwater collected at a monitoring well close to the turbine building of the No. 2 reactor where highly radioactive water accumulated in its basement. The level of radioactive cesium was 14 times higher [960 Bq/L vs 65 Bq/L] than the reading logged last Wednesday. Strontium and other radioactive materials that emit beta rays were 46 times higher [56,000 Bq/L vs 1,200 Bq/L]. TEPCO officials say they do not know the cause for the spikes, and they will further look into how contaminated water has spread and what effects it has brought.
Asahi Shimbun, August 6, 2013: Radioactivity levels soared 47-fold over just five days in groundwater from a monitoring well on the ocean side of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the plant operator said Aug. 5. Tokyo Electric Power Co. said 56,000 becquerels of radioactive substances, including strontium, were detected per liter of groundwater sampled on Aug. 5 in the "No. 1-5 " monitoring well, which is adjacent to the turbine building for the No. 1 reactor. The previous measurement for the well water was made on July 31.
Tepco Press Release, Aug. 5, 2013: the latest situation concerning the detection of high densities of Tritium and Strontium in the observation hole at the east side of the Unit 1-4 Turbine Buildings Groundwater observation hole No. 1-5 (west of the groundwater observation hole No.1-3)
Aug. 5, 2013: Cesium-134 @ 310 Bq/L; Cesium-137 @ 650 Bq/L; All-β @ 56,000 Bq/L
July 31, 2013: Cesium-134 @ 21 Bq/L; Cesium-137 @ 44 Bq/L; All-β @ 1,200 Bq/L
Vice Governor: "Emergency situation " at Fukushima; Tepco has increased the risk of further leaks
Fukushima asks govt. to take steps to stop leaks The vice governor of Fukushima Prefecture has asked the government to take the lead in handling the matter and stop the leakage. Masao Uchibori told an official from the Nuclear Regulation Authority that some of Tepco's measures have increased the risk of further leaks. The measures aren't enough to deal with an emergency situation.
Wall St. Journal: Fukushima leaks are "massive public health issue " Obviously this could spread throughout Pacific and get into food supply
BBC: Water crisis at Fukushima has only just begun "Plant sits smack in the middle of an underground aquifer " It's rapidly being overwhelmed deep beneath ground
Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, BBC News, Tokyo: Engineers are now facing a new emergency. The Fukushima plant sits smack in the middle of an underground aquifer. Deep beneath the ground, the site is rapidly being overwhelmed by water.
It's now so high, the water will soon reach the surface. Then it will start flowing over-ground into the sea.
Even if the government does step in, it's not clear what it could do. The only other solution is to pump out the contaminated groundwater and put it in storage tanks. Most of them are already filled up.
At least 400 tons of new water pours into the site every day. It's going to continue for years and years.
Fukushima's water crisis has only just begun.
Wall St. Journal: Official warns Fukushima reactor buildings could "topple " Tepco's work to change flow of groundwater can form pools below surface that soften the earth
as [Tepco] prepares this week to start work on a new set of measures that would ring off and cap the area where the most highly contaminated water has been found, some experts and regulators are saying that the battle to completely contain radioactivity to the site of one of the world's worst nuclear accidents may be a losing one.
It's preparing to extend the underground hardened-earth barrier in a ring around the most heavily contaminated section of coastline, in hopes of heading groundwater off before it can flood in. Tepco is also proposing to cap that ringed section with gravel and asphalt, so nothing gets out. The operator is hoping to get an initial ring of hardened ground done by October.
But there's a risk to changing the flow of groundwater in the ways that Tepco is considering, said Tatsuya Shinkawa, nuclear accident response director of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, at a news conference last month. The water could pool dangerously underground, softening the earth and potentially toppling the reactor buildings, he said.
Japan's Top Nuclear Official: Tepco will never be able to store all the radioactive water at Fukushima plant They'll end up dumping it into ocean
Tepco's water-control measures, such as pumping out contaminated water and putting it in storage, are "merely a temporary solution, " said Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority, at a news conference last week. Eventually, "it will be necessary to discharge water " that's still contaminated into the sea, he said.
Some 400 metric tons of water a day is still being used to cool the melted fuel coresthough much of that water is now recycled. More troubling is another 400 tons a day of groundwater that flows down from hills and mountains into the compound, and toward the sea.
Now, Tepco is planning to pump out some of the water that's built up behind the [underground] barrier, and store it as well.
Mr. Tanaka, the nuclear regulatory chairman, has said that Tepco should admit it'll never be able to handle all the inflow of water, and start arranging for the release of contaminated water into the ocean, as long as it's under allowable limits for radioactivity.
Lethal threat from radioactive water flowing into sea from crippled Fukushima
Japan's nuclear watchdog warned of a new emergency at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant yesterday, confirming that highly radioactive water had reached the sea and was posing a threat to life.
Shinji Kinjo, head of a special taskforce within the country's Nuclear Regulatory Authority, said that contaminated groundwater had breached an underground barrier, was rising towards the surface and exceeding legal limits of radioactive discharge.
BBC: "Huge buildup " of radioactive groundwater at Fukushima plant Expert concerned "contamination has spread to all sorts of places "
CNN Nuclear Expert: Fukushima plant is in 'uncharted territory' Highly radioactive water to either be boiled until it evaporates, or dumped in ocean
Highly radioactive water from the site has been seeping into groundwater and the harbor off the plant. The problem now is what to do with groundwater that's leaking into the damaged basements of the reactor buildings and passing out contaminated, said Michael Friedlander, a former nuclear plant operator and engineer.
[Tepco] is having to store the radioactive water in massive tank farms built around the site a makeshift solution with no good permanent fix, Friedlander said. And Friedlander said that may leave TEPCO and Japan's government with two choices sure to stoke further public anger: "You can either dump it in the ocean, or you can evaporate it. "
"At the end of the day, collecting 400 tons of water every single day is not a sustainable solution, " he said. "We're in uncharted territory here. "
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